Michelle Tan
Photo by Nestors Photography.

We were surprised when longtime Chicago fashion designer Michelle Tan?s Bucktown shop closed last fall, and again--pleasantly surprised this time--when she recently reappeared in a new, more intimate space a block to the south.

Tan?s emphasis these days is on bang for your buck. Nothing she makes costs more than $450 (many items are under $200), and Tan is a genius at creating pieces that can be worn different ways. With the flip of a swath of fabric or the pull of a string, the neckline of a convertible dress ($359) dips or the shoulder panels of a sleeveless silk top ($98) become cap sleeves.

Her latest collection?s color palette is mostly neutrals--black, white, navy and beige--but take a simple, work-ready piece off the rack and you?ll often discover surprise details that show off Tan?s flair for the dramatic: chunky zippers, gold spikes protruding from a pair of shorts or even a trail of pink hair hanging from the back of a jacket. (It's surprising how good it looks.)

Fear not: Tan loves to have fun, but she?s happy to tone down (for free) any of her edgier creations or custom-make them without the avant-garde twists.

Michelle Tan, 1920 N. Damen Ave.; 773-252-1888 or shopmichelletan.com

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